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UAE companies in India get burned
The question is, were they holding the match? As the Indian President visits the UAE, Kipp asks what Etisalat and Emaar have been up to across the sea.
November 21, 2010 10:46 by Samuel Potter
First it was Emaar, now it is Etisalat.
As the Indian president Pratibha Devisingh Patil visits the UAE in a bid to strengthen business ties, her arrival ironically coincides with news that another major UAE company has been caught up in troubles on the other side of the Arabian Sea.
It transpires that Etisalat’s Indian arm, Etisalat DB India, is among companies mentioned in an Indian government report after a company it bought “received spectrum licences from the telecommunications department that were significantly undervalued and did not follow policy procedures,” according to the National.
The Indian President will be only too aware of the telecoms scandal; it is shaping up to be the biggest story of business corruption in India ever. In essence, it is suggested that as much as $40 billion of revenue was lost by the government when mobile spectrum was allocated to nine companies in an irregular manner and most importantly, at a discount price. The scale of the fraud is shocking, even in a country used hearing about “graft.”
According to the National, the Indian telecoms regulator could now force Etisalat to pay a penalty or relinquish licenses. Under-pressure Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has vowed to take action against perpetrators saying, “There should be no doubt in anybody’s mind that if any wrong thing has been done by anybody, he or she will be brought to book.”
Fortunately overseas the scandal has not really caught the public attention – the fallout may be limited mostly to within Indian borders. A far more damaging affair unfolded just a month or so ago, and once again there was a UAE company at the heart of things.
The Commonwealth Games fiasco reflected terribly on India, as it caught the attention and imagination of the international public. The global sporting event was almost derailed by shoddy work and suspicious practices and the ensuing embarrassing images of unfinished accommodation and a collapsing bridge. It was perfect media fodder, and India was duly hammered in the world press. In the middle of it all was none other than Emaar, the UAE real estate giant behind the Burj Khalifa, among other mega-projects.
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